Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Little History of the World

E. H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World is the most fascinating (and probably the easiest to read) one-volume history of mankind.
Chapter 33: A Truly New Age

If you could talk to a gentleman from the time of the Turkish siege, there would be many things about him that would surprise you. The way he spoke and the many Latin and French words he used. His elaborate and convoluted turns of phrase and habit of slipping in Latin quotations that neither you nor I could place, and his grand and solemn bows. You would, I think, suspect that beneath that venerable wig was someone with a large appetite for good food and fine wines. And – if you will forgive me for mentioning it – you could hardly fail to notice that beneath the fancy lace, the embroidery and the silk, this prinked, perfumed and powdered gentleman stank, because he hardly ever washed…
It’s a delightful history, from Neanderthal man to the present day, packed into a book the size of a Stephen King novel. It’s great to read aloud.


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